On Losing a Loved One

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The thing in life I fear the most and never entertain a thought is about losing a loved one, family/friend to death. I may have imagined how my own funeral service should be.. and even have a few ideas on who could be threatened to be the eulogy readers if there be none. But for all of us it is one thing to talk about death in an abstract sense and entirely another to personally experience the loss of our loved ones. Losing a chip from the centre of your world isn’t something we generally are prepared for. Your whole world crumbles.

They say, if you are fortunate you are given a warning, you get to say your good-byes, if not all that is left is excruciating shock and horror of losing one of those who matter most, too early and too sudden.

You wish you could scream your heart out and stop the whole world right there that very moment. Life without them doesn’t make any sense. You long to see them one more time, see them smile, hear them call your name, hold their hand, take them places you wanted them to see, lean on their shoulders, finish those half left conversations, be your silly self with them. You long and despair but there seems no answer. It hurts your bones to see all their near and dear be broken down. Disoriented you drudge along with broken dreams and plans, both yours and theirs. You choose to stay in this pit of despair with your unanswered questions and brokenness. Life seems cruel and unfair, and if you are someone who believes in God or any supreme power, you have your own doubts now. And in your doubt, with no reservations you vent your anger and frustration in all simple honesty.

Slowly, you stand up feeling numb in your heart but still pick yourself up. To live on without them seems more hurtful and a worse punishment than the day you had to say your final good-bye. Memories of them storm you by the second. You remember and recall their gentleness, the way they laugh at any lame joke, the many things they taught you, their wink, the way they spoke stressing syllables, they way they usually hold your face between their cupped hands and call you their blessing, their timely words of direction advice and ofcourse nagging!, the weird things they did for your good and kept it secret from you, those moments when their shameless bragging about you left you squirming in the seat, you remember their strong will, their faith, their generosity, stubbornness and every little quirk and eccentricity of their own. Strangely these memories don’t disarm you or leave you weaker, instead thinking back on the good days is the only way you get strength to move forward.

At such times, the love and warmth of people they knew touches you and your family. The incidents they recall, the stories they share or even their simple acts of being there make you feel even more connected to your lost one. Well…there are other moments when some meaningless, hollow consoling clichés like: ‘remember there are others who go through worse suffering.. or, they’ve gone to a better place so be happy… or, get back to normal soon’ and the likes of such, surprisingly doesn’t ruffle you up…your grief has taught you to sense their good intentions and helplessness. The fragility leaves you with an even more increased appreciation for life and relationships.

As life goes on, you don’t always get all your answers and by now it hits you pretty well that God doesn’t report to you. But you don’t regret asking Him questions. For you, to ask was a sacred thing, a sacred thing born out of the genuinity of your relationship with the higher power. Like any besties you’re hands are held even after an argument.

There comes days you catch yourself talking to them as you would, if they were alive here on earth, only sans phone or meeting up. There will be days when you are out shopping and a smile creeps in as you remember what they would say exactly on your choice of colour. You sometimes become the braggart they once were who can’t stop talking about them.

You slowly fill your pit with hope instead of despair. Yes, you don’t see them anymore and you haven’t stopped yearning for that familiar ‘hello’ or ‘sollu kannu’ at the other end. Nothing changes..you still hurt, yet something changes. A blaring truth stares at you amidst this harsh reality..that they still are your aunt/uncle/grandparent/friend/cousin/sibling/parent. They are who they are to us, and even if they passed on this hasn’t changed and never will. What they gave and made of us remains with us, we carry a piece of them in the corner of our lives. They still remain in our everyday conversations and we speak their name as always, with joy and if we tear-up there is no ghost of a shadow in it. they are very much alive, just not around anymore.

You know you have to not just survive but live double for them as well.

”Lost love is still love, Eddie. It takes a different form, that’s all. You can’t see their smile or bring them food or tousle their hair or move them around a dance floor. But when those sense weaken, another heightens. Memory. Memory becomes your partner. You nurture it. You hold it. You dance with it. Life has to end’ she said, ‘ Love doesn’t” – (Five people you meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom)

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